Honda Civic – Where It All Began
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
Honda recently laid on a Media Drive Event for us northerly folk and the array of tempting cars was quite exceptional.
Eschewing the modern fayre, I was especially drawn to the Carnaby Yellow 1975 Civic. I remember the diminutive cars appearing on our roads and I suppose its closest rival may well have been our very own Mini.
From the press information at my fingertips, I read that the Civic’s development team travelled to various world markets, gaining local knowledge in order to create a car that ‘is needed right now.’
The target was to develop an all-new model that was compact and nimble, a basic car acceptable to people worldwide that provided ‘maximum value from the minimum number of mechanical components.’
The car was launched in 1972 and the advertising slogan proclaimed:
‘It will get you where you’re going.’
Hardly a startling revelation but the aim was surely to emphasise the practical and economical nature of the Civic.
Power came from a 50PS 1.2-litre engine, mated to either a 4-speed manual gearbox or 2-speed automatic. Top speed was listed at 90mph, though with a 0-60mph time of 15.1 seconds, I would guess that getting there might take
Comfort and convenience features included 2-speed windscreen wipers, reclining front seats, passenger sun visor, lockable fuel cap and a variable speed heating and ventilation system. A heated rear window and AM radio are also noteworthy and showed a level of standard equipment that European manufacturers of the time had not considered necessary, especially at the lower end of the market.
NLA 993P has been well maintained by Honda’s enthusiastic mechanics who look after an extensive Heritage Fleet.
Understandably I was asked the treat the old girl with due respect and
therefore set off not quite knowing what to expect.
I was struck by the lightness of the controls. Steering, via a spindly wheel, was easy and positive and the clutch was light and easy to use.
The gear change action would shame many modern cars and is head and shoulders above the equivalent Minis of the era. I know as I ran a Clubman in the early 80s, where gear selection could often be a lottery.
The willing engine provides enough oomph to keep up with modern town traffic and seemed happy up to about 50mph on the open road.
The Civic’s tardis-like interior remains a comfortable place to sit and four reasonable sized adults will fit in. Quite how the car would then perform is anyone’s guess.
The new Civic won the Japanese Car of the Year award for three years in succession starting in the launch year of 1972. A lofty 3rd place from European judges followed in 1973 and Road Test Magazine in America awarded the Civic Import Car of the Year in 1974. No doubt many ordered one to keep in the boot of their Cadillacs...
So thank you Honda for reminding me what simple motoring is all about. And if you are looking for an unusual classic car for a little bit of city running around, check out the original Civic. It won’t be easy to find a good one, but it will bring no end of pleasure.
Honda Civic 1.2 Deluxe
Produced from 1972 to 1979
1,169cc 4-cylinder engine
50PS at 5,500 rpm
0 to 60 mph in 15.1 seconds
Top speed 90mph
Economy 46.6mpg at 56mph (estimated)
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Honda Civic – Where It All Began, 21st May 2018, 17:40 PM